New Castle passes $2.9 million budget for 2014 |

New Castle passes $2.9 million budget for 2014

John Colson

NEW CASTLE — The Board of Trustees last week approved a 2014 budget calling for general fund expenditures of more than $2.9 million, including more than $327,000 transferred to the general fund from the town’s budgetary reserves.

The transfer, according to finance officer Lyle Layton, will leave the town with about $1.5 million in reserves, a fiscal cushion roughly equivalent to six months of normal government spending.

Layton noted that the town expects nearly $2.3 million in revenues from sales and property taxes, franchise fees and other sources.

The infusion of cash from the reserve funds, Layton said, was for “just general operations,” which is how the general fund functions in the town’s finances, paying the everyday costs of running the government.

He said the town is expecting its property tax receipts and other revenues to remain low, and perhaps continue to fall because of ongoing repercussions from the recession that began in 2008.

The only major project the town is hoping to undertake is construction of a pedestrian bridge spanning the Union Pacific Railroad, I-70 and the Colorado River, to carry pedestrians, bicyclists and other nonmotorized traffic from the old center of town, north of the Colorado River, across to the southern banks of the river.

But, Layton said, the project is expected to cost as much as $2 million, and the town has yet to hear whether it will receive an $800,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to match $410,000 already dedicated to the project by the town, and up to $1 million offered by Garfield County.

“We should know in the next two weeks,” Layton said of the DOLA grant.

He noted that the town also has received $270,000 from the Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD), which disburses state impact funds from oil and gas activities. Some of that money could be spent on the pedestrian bridge, he said.

If all the anticipated funding comes through for 2014, Layton said, “We’ve got enough” to complete the project.

No other big projects are contemplated in the proposed 2014 budget, Layton continued, explaining that the streets are “in pretty good shape” in the wake of recent FMLD grants, as are the recreation department and major utility funds.

“We’re just trying to keep going, keep the parks and rec department in shape, keep up with public safety,” he concluded.

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